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Travel

2 Days in San Diego

March 10, 2016

February is typically one of the tougher months to get through when living in Boise, ID.  It’s usually super cold, dark, and the valley can get blanketed with inversions for days at a time.  With some help from the Alaska Airlines credit card rewards program, we were able to say “eff that noise” and blow this Popsicle stand for a couple days.  For the cost of a tank of gas, we whisked ourselves away to sunny California where we spent 2 days in San Diego.

With risking you not reading the rest of this post, you can jump over to our previous post to see our step by step instructions on how to get a free flight on Alaska Airlines…which is how we were able to afford this trip.  Their latest offer includes a $100 statement credit which will wipe out the $75 annual fee the card has and leave you with $25 extra in credit to use.  We don’t get paid to promote this offer FYI.  I just genuinely think it’s a cool option to save on a quick trip.

Back to San Diego…

Lacey and I initially planned on going to a Rihanna concert while we were in San Diego, but found out at the last minute that the show was rescheduled for May.  Anyone wanna buy our tickets? 🙂  Once we wiped the concert off of our itinerary we realized that it was the ONLY thing on our itinerary.  This realization was followed up by a conversation that went something like this…

“So what should we do in San Diego now?” -Mat

“I’m down for whatever.  I’m not even sure what’s there.” – Lacey

“Wanna hang out in downtown on Friday and then the beach on Saturday?” – Mat

“Sounds good.” – Lacey

After this intense and lengthy conversation, our trip was planned.  I’m not kidding, that’s all that was said before we left.

We landed in San Diego on a Friday morning at 10am, got an early check in at our hotel (Hampton Inn), and were drinking Coronas while eating nachos at the Waterfront Bar and Grill by 11:15am.

Lacey and I immediately fell in love with San Diego.  Not only was the weather absolutely perfect (73 degrees with a very light breeze), but I personally just felt like I fit in right away.  The city is super casual.  All of the guys wear t-shirts, longer shorts, flat billed baseball hats, and have tattoos.  Sound familiar?  I love it when I can visit a new city and not worry about standing out like a dorky tourist.

The food options in San Diego are right up our alley as well.  There is a ton of delicious Italian food (check out Sorrento in Little Italy), as well as some of the best Mexican/American food you can get.  Lacey and I are both suckers for anything that comes in a tortilla.  We also drank some of the biggest/best margaritas of our lives at a place down by Mission Beach.  I wish we could remember the name of the place, but that again speaks to the fact that they were awesome margaritas.

Friday, we spent time cruzing around Little Italy and the Gas Lamp Quarter.  After a quick shower we hopped on an 8 minuted train to get to the Top of the Hyatt for dinner.  We’d definitely recommend you check this place out as the food and views from the 40th floor are great!

Saturday, we jumped on a train that took us to a large bus station that ultimately took us to Mission Beach (we spent $10 total on getting around San Diego during this trip).  Mission Beach is beautiful! There is a 3 mile oceanfront boardwalk that Lacey and I strolled around on for the first hour when we got there.  After working up a thirst, we stopped in the Lahaina Beach House for a couple drinks.  The place has a really cool view of the boardwalk allowing us to continue with some great people watching.  We walked around a bit more, had some margaritas, got some delicious ice cream, and then headed back to our hotel.  After another quick shower, we finished up our San Diego trip with a delicious dinner in Little Italy.

While our visit was super brief, we both fell in love with the food, weather, and overall vibe of San Diego.  I’m not sure why everyone in the world isn’t trying to move there in all honesty.

Let us know if you’ve ever been to SD and have additional spots we should check out the next time we visit!

If you haven’t been yet…go!

 Flight to San Diego

neck pillow…don’t get on a plane without it!

San Diego Airport

Little Italy San Diego

2 days in San Diego

Gas Lamp San Diego

Gas Lamp San Diego

Top of the Roof Hyatt San Diego

Top of the Roof Hyatt San Diego

Lacey Hyatt San Diego

Hyatt food San Diego

Jason DeRullo San Diego Hilton

Jason Derullo surprise concert at the Hilton San Diego

PetCo Park San Diego

Continental Breakfast Hampton Inn San Diego

San Diego Bus

bus ride to Mission Beach

Mission Beach San Diego

Mission Beach San Diego

one of the oldest wood roller coasters is at Mission Beach

Mission Beach

Lahaina Beach House

Giant Margarita

Giant Margarita San Diego

Mission beach San Diego

waiting for the bus at Mission Beach

blister

Result of Lacey trying to break in a new pair of shoes

Ice Cream Mission Beach

Rewards Points Travel

San Diego for Rihanna. Rewards Flight in 12 Days

January 31, 2016

A few weeks ago, Lacey told me that she really wanted to go to San Diego to see an upcoming Rihanna concert.  Being that we just used all of our flight and hotel rewards points to book our Final Four and Malta trips, I didn’t think this would be possible on such short notice.  My initial response to Lacey was “I’m sorry, we just can’t afford it right now.”  A day or two later I realized what an asshole response that was since I hadn’t even investigated our potential rewards options yet.

Rather than spending time on my acceptance speech for the shittiest husband of the year award, I decided to hop on the computer and see if there was any way to make this trip happen.  After all, Lacey was amazing enough to let us use some of our rewards points and cash on our upcoming trip to Houston for the Final Four, so I needed to do my absolute best to return the favor.  I began searching for any rewards programs that might help us get to San Diego for free or at a discount.  Not kidding, it took me less than 10 minutes to find an option that would get us round trip flights from Boise to San Diego for $87 ($75 sign up fee and $12 taxes and fees while booking the flights).  More importantly, this option was doable on short notice.

Below is the process I used to help us save over $400 on flights which ultimately made this trip possible for us…

…oh and spoiler alert, at the end of this post is a video of Lacey dancing to Rihanna on Halloween last year.

As usual, I started with Google.  I typed in “Boise to San Diego Flights”.  The returning results let me know which airlines we could use (Alaska, American Airlines, United, and Delta).  I noticed that Alaska Airlines offers a non-stop flight, so I immediately Googled “Alaska Airlines Rewards Program”.  I was looking for the current Alaska Airlines credit card offer and for the booking section on Alaska’s site that would show me if there were available flights on the dates we needed, and if so, how many rewards miles we’d need to book ’em.

I found that the current rewards offer for this card is 25k miles “upon approval”.  That’s amazing! More often than not, rewards cards like this have spending requirements that can takes 2-3 months to achieve.  This card gives you the points “in 2-3 weeks” following your application approval.  Perfect for a short notice trip!

Alaska Airlines Rewards Card

While snooping in the booking section on Alaska’s site, I found that there were round trip flights Boise-San Diego on the dates we needed that cost exactly 25k bonus miles.  Heyo!  I immediately submitted our applications for this rewards card.

Alaska Airlines Boise to San Diego Rewards Options

We received the bonus points in 12 days and were able to book our highly discounted flights for $12.  Again, the sign up fee for this card is $75, so our total cost is $87 for these flights.  Still a lot better than the $500-ish we would have paid for full price tickets.  We used the extra money saved on these flights to get some pretty decent seats for the Rihanna concert.

To keep the rest of the trip budget friendly, we’ll be staying at the Hampton Inn near the Gaslamp district.  Why this hotel? I know it doesn’t sound super luxurious, but it has an airport shuttle, free hot breakfast, and is super close to the public transport station that we’ll be taking to the concert.  This hotel is also within walking distance of all the restaurants and bars we’re hoping to check out. All of these perks combined will likely save us another $200-$300 on our trip.

So it looks like we’ll “shine bright like a diamond” with Rihanna in a few weeks down in San Diego.  Hopefully the weather is beautiful and we won’t need to take an umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay.  …I’m such a dork sometimes I make myself want to hide under a table.

Hopefully you found this useful and can use the process outlined above to book your own vacay on short notice.  For more tips and options, check our previous post relating to this subject here.

We’ll see you soon San Diego!

As promised, an awesome video of Lacey Killing it to Rihanna on Halloween last year.  …dressed as a Day of the Dead.

Travel

Los Angeles for President’s Day Weekend

February 26, 2017

Lacey and I didn’t originally plan on taking a trip in between Aruba (late Jan.) and Maui (next Saturday!), but the weather in Boise continues to be absolutely miserable.  The buzz from the Aruba trip wore off quicker than we’d hoped as the wind, rain, snow, and inversions of Southern Idaho kept coming.  Lacey and I are both really affected by ugly/dark/cold weather (who isnt?!).  I’m not sure if it’s to the level of seasonal depression disorder, but it sucks nonetheless.  After a few days in a row of being bummed out, we decided we had to seek out some sunshine.

With plenty of Southwest points paired with the Companion Pass and our recently earned 2 “anniversary” nights with Hyatt, I started doing some searching for a Presidents Day Weekend getaway.  From Boise, Southern California is usually our best bet for a quick trip to sunshine this time of year.  I had a little trouble out of the gates finding award night availability with Hyatt.  I searched places like San Diego, Long Beach, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach.  No luck.  It seemed this was just too short of notice to book a room with awards.  Then I remembered Lacey telling me about how much fun her and her mom had wedding dress shopping at Manhattan Beach.  I quickly searched for, and found, availability at the Hyatt House near Manhattan Beach.  After a quick chat with Lacey, we booked the trip.

The conversation went something like this:

  • Mat – “How do you feel about going to Manhattan Beach for President’s Day? We can get there for free, use 2 free nights at a Hyatt, and then book a 3rd night with a points+cash combination.  The entire trip would cost $83.”
  • Lacey – “Oh my gosh, yes! Book it!”

So I did, and we enjoyed a quick and casual, no plans, just hanging out, Netflix by 7pm, awesome weekend in the Los Angeles/Manhattan Beach area.

The weather was a little chilly during the trip, but the sunshine did come out each day after some morning clouds.  We ventured to Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, while hiking to the Griffith Observatory.  We made our way to Venice Beach and crushed some In and Out Burgers on the way back to the hotel.  We even caught a movie during a couple hours of cloudy drizzly weather one morning.

Another awesome experience courtesy of rewards points.  We saved $900+ on this trip by using the Southwest Airlines companion pass and the Hyatt rewards programs.  Let us know if you have any questions on how you can do the same!

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

Sunset Blvd Hollywood

Sunset Blvd Hollywood

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Zoltar

Muscle Beach Venice Beach

Los Angeles for President's Day Weekend

Griffith Observatory

Rewards Points Travel

Nearly $22k of Free Travel in 12 months

February 11, 2017

Lacey and I just did the math and realized that we redeemed nearly $22k of free travel in 12 months.  To be exact, it was $21,833.42 from February ’16 – January ’17.  Holy shit!  We traveled to some amazing places (20 different cities) and stayed in some incredible hotels along the way.  The majority of our travel expenses were either highly discounted or completely free thanks to credit card rewards points.  I can’t stress enough how easily all of you can do the same thing!

Our 12 month travel recap includes the destinations listed below.  Click the links to get more details on what we experienced in the past 12 months and how we did it for next to nothing!

While there were a number of rewards programs we used to get all of this awesome stuff, there are a few programs that gave us the most in return.  Keep in mind that we don’t get paid to promote any of these programs.  These are our genuine opinions based strictly on our personal experiences.

  1. Southwest Airlines Companion Pass –  Lacey and I have redeemed over $5,000 worth of free flights from this reward so far. This reward lets you AND your companion fly for free for up to 2 years.  Lacey and I still have all of 2017 left to use this perk and we’re going to do our best to make sure we continue earning this reward for as long as possible.  Check out how to earn the SW Companion Pass here.
  2. The Hyatt “2 Free Nights” card – link here.  After meeting the spending requirements, you’ll earn 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt property.  Lacey and I both earned this reward and used our 4 free nights at the Grand Hyatt in Aruba for an $800 per night ocean view suite.  This card also gives you 1 anniversary night per year.  Lacey and I just used our anniversary nights to book a stay on Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles.
  3. The Wyndham card – What a nice surprise this card has been!  You don’t hear much about this card on the mainstream travel blogs.  You’ll earn 45k points after hitting the spending requirement.  You can book ANY of their hotels for a flat rate of 15k points.  So out of the gate, you get 3 free nights anywhere.  We used this to book an ocean front suite on South Beach in Miami.  It was one of the best hotel experiences we’ve had so far.  More details in this post.
  4. The Hilton Honors program.  I love Hilton! They have multiple cards you can sign up for making it easy to stack points quickly.  Their customer service reps treat you like royalty when you call to book your room(s).  I’ll never forget how cool it felt to have someone say “Alright Mr. Thompson, let’s see if I can get you into our most luxurious property during your stay.”  There aren’t many occasions in life when I feel like a big shot, but the Hilton reps make me feel like that every time I talk to them.

We are so lucky to have experienced everything we did during the last 12 months.  We are very grateful that there are ways for people on a budget to get to see the world.  When there’s a will, there’s a way!  We hope to continue this pace throughout 2017 as well.  So far we’re booked through June 2017 with vacations to Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach), Maui, New York City, and Sayulita Mexico.

Let us know if you have any questions once you start planning your next vacay!

Edits and pics from our travels last year:

San Diego:

Lahaina Beach House

Gas Lamp San Diego

Giant Margarita San Diego

Houston (Final Four):

Final Four 2016 NRG Stadium Houston, TX

Final Four Custom Lanyard

This pic was on our custom lanyards that we wore around our necks.

Lacey at Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

NRG Stadium Final Four 2016

New York City:

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Freedom Tower New York City

Weekend in New York Yankee Redsox Game

Manhattan Skyline

Florence, Italy:

piazzale michelangelo florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Rome, Italy:

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

Italian Open Rome 2016

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Malta:

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Free Summer Vacation

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Chicago:

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend In Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Huntington Beach, CA:

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Sunset

Denver, CO:

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

Aruba:

I heart Aruba Sign

Baby Bridge Aruba

“Baby Bridge”

Flamingo Island Aruba

Rainbow Aruba

first view upon opening our window shades at the Hyatt in Aruba. Not a bad start

Curacao:

Curacao Sign

Hilton Curacao

view from our Hilton Suite in Curacao

Curacao Hilton

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

South Beach – Miami, FL:

South Beach Miami

South Beach, Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

view from our upgrade at the Shelborne in South Beach

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

 

Travel

Huntington Beach and the Vans U.S. Open

July 28, 2016

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of our free flights with Southwest Airlines and take a quick weekend trip to Huntington Beach, California. We had no reason to go there, other than having heard from friends that it was a fun little beach town. Since we loved our weekend in San Diego so much we thought “Why not?”

We had no plans other than beach, eat and drink. Just a week or two before our trip we found out that we had accidentally booked it while the Vans US Open was happening, so the timing worked out perfectly! We stayed at a place we found on Airbnb that was about four blocks from the events on the beach, so we were able to walk to everything: restaurants, bars, coffee, shopping, and of course, all of the Vans US Open events.

Not realizing how big of a deal the US Open is, we were quite shocked to see how busy the little town of Huntington Beach was! The second day we were up on the pier looking down at the boardwalk that lead to event and Mat compared it to Times Square, except everyone was in bikinis! Crazy! It was strange seeing everyone wear their swimming suits everywhere, including restaurants! It was pretty fun to be in such a relaxed environment. I literally didn’t brush my hair for the entire three days we were there and I loved it.

One day we rented bikes and (foolishly) attempted to ride to Newport. Spoiler alert, that didn’t happen. We did ride by a country festival that was happening on the beach though, which was so cool! A new item has now been added to the bucket list….attend a music festival on a beach.

Between the margaritas, watching world class surfing, skateboarding, outdoor movies in the amphitheater and the amazing sunsets the west coast offers….the weekend was an absolute blast! Oh yeah, we both left with some new Vans gear. 🙂

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach

Vans U.S. Open Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Vans U.S. Open Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Main St.

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Sunset

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pin Map

Huntington Beach Pin Map

Lifestyle

Checking in on our 2016 Game Plan

April 13, 2016

We figured since it’s over a quarter of the way through the year, now would be a good time to check in on the 2016 game plan we set at the beginning of the year. How obvious is it that I’m left brained? I blame work for making me think of the year in terms of Q1 , Q2, Q3 and Q4. Anyway, since Q1 is now complete, we are practicing what we preach by holding ourselves accountable and evaluating where we are on our goals. This is good because it gives cause to celebrate and pat yourself on the back, as well as realign the next section of the year to focus more on the goals that haven’t gotten a lot of attention yet.

As a recap, our goals are listed below:

  1. Visit 10 different cities
  2. Continue downsizing
  3. Continue paying more on our mortgage
  4. Spend more time with family and friends
  5. Improve photography skills
  6. Bedroom remodel
  7. More collaborations
  8. Save $15,000 by using rewards points
  9. Learn a second language
  10. Add yoga to the workout routine

To be honest, I’m fairly shocked that we have even started this list. To say I’m proud of our progress is putting it lightly. I’m ready to celebrate how far we are on our game plan! Let’s see how we are doing:

  1. So far we have been to two cities (San Diego and Houston) this year, and in another month we will add five more to total seven. We have more destinations on our list for the remainder of the year, but nothing is officially booked yet. I have been to San Francisco, but since Mat wasn’t with me, I figured it wasn’t fair to count that.

    Gas Lamp San Diego

    San Diego was a blast.

  2. Well, we did it. We sold Mat’s car and are now down to one! Oh my gosh are we crazy or what?! Our plan with this goal was to find out the Kelly Blue Book value of his car and put it up for sale at that price; no budging at all. We planned to leave it up for a couple of weeks and then if nothing had happened we would re-evaluate. The car sold in less than three days! I wasn’t entirely sure I was even on board with the whole one car thing, so I panicked a little. I will admit it does take a little more pre-planning, but so far, totally worth it!
  3. We were paying double on our mortgage, but since we sold Mat’s car, we put that extra money toward our condo each month. We are trying to have a free place to live as soon as possible! Seeing the principle balance on our mortgage go down each month is motivating and slightly addicting. We understand that we might not always be at a place in our lives where we are able to pay extra, which is why we are trying to take advantage now!
  4. We are known to be homebodies, especially in the winter, so we have been making a conscious effort to spend more time with people we love. We have been meeting up with other couples for dinner, drinks, brunch, etc. We spent the last three weekends in a row with family. We also plan on meeting up with five friends on our next big trip! Anybody else want to join in on the fun?
  5. We just purchased a camera and plan on meeting up with a friend (who just so happens to have been our wedding photographer) to learn more about it this weekend! As I type this, Mat is messing around with the different settings. I may or may not have just made him do some karate/ninja moves to test out the action setting. We definitely have a ways to go on this goal, but at least we have started!
  6. We also have a ways to go on our bedroom remodel, but we have completed the most important task-getting a king sized bed! Oh it’s so wonderful. I always feel like I get in it too late and have to leave it too early in the morning. I want to lounge in it all day because it’s so big and inviting. New West Elm bedding doesn’t hurt either. 😉
  7. We sort of fell into a collaboration of sorts with Venture Magazine and are stoked about it! The individuals we have met through this magazine are amazing and we can’t wait to get even more involved in this community! We also did a rad photo shoot collaboration with the ever entertaining Damon of Dynamic Shutter Photography. I also was a part of a photo shoot/event for an amazing cause, Speak Your Silence. More on that when I can give some sneak peeks. I also have another collab coming up next week that I am SO excited about! All I can say at this moment is that it involves some insanely talented individuals, including personal stylist (and my friend!) Laura Tully, amazing photography duo Ben and Joella, and Will from Flowers at Will.

    Couples Workout

    Some fun collabs with Venture Meridian Magazine so far!

  8. So far (thanks my brilliant husband) we have saved roughly $10,000 in travel costs. This includes flights to San Diego, our hotel in Houston, as well as flights and hotels for our big trip coming up to New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago. We have a few more tricks up our sleeves, but will wait until things are finalized before sharing.
  9. To be honest, we have done nothing to further our learning of a second language. Now that we carpool to work, I talk the whole drive (not surprising, I know) so Mat isn’t able to listen to his Rosetta Stone. We need to carve out some time on the weekends for this, as it helps immensely when traveling. Mat picks languages up MUCH faster than I do. I actually think it’s not possible for me to learn another language. This is me. For real.
  10. Guess how many times we have been to a yoga class this year? The answer is zero. We need to work on that. Any suggestions on where to go? Please let us know, we need help in this area!

Now is a great time to check in on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Remember, don’t focus on the negatives, but celebrate the positives! That will give you more energy and encouragement to get back on track with your goals. I’m always down to celebrate any accomplishment, no matter how small it might be. Speaking of that, I think it’s time to open some wine to celebrate our progress.

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

Lifestyle

Combat the Winter Blues

January 27, 2016

Combat the WInter Blues

January is by far my least favorite month of the year. This year has been especially rough with doctors appointments, yearly reviews, stitches, a (ridiculous) cancer scare and a very stressful few days being on call for work. Combine all of that nonsense with cold, gray weather and it’s hard for this hot-weather-loving girl to even make it to Valentine’s Day without running away to Florida. I thought now would be a good time to list out ways to combat the winter blues, mostly to remind myself that winter isn’t all bad.

1.Get outside anytime it’s sunny

This means pulling yourself away from your work station for a quick walk outside, or bundling up on the weekends for a stroll to a nearby coffee shop. It will be good for your muscles and brain! Get that blood pumping and soak up some natural Vitamin D. If it’s way too cold (for me that’s single digits), at least get to a window and let it shine on you through the glass!

2.Participate in winter activities (snowboarding, snowshoeing, sledding, tubing, ice skating, etc.)

Now is the time to take full advantage of doing things that are typically only available a few months of the year. Don’t have any equipment for the above winter activities? Then rent! Or let you inner eight-year old out and build a snowman. 🙂

Mat next to the Snowman he built

3.Exercise

What better time to start a new workout plan than the beginning of a new year? After all of the holiday indulging it shouldn’t be too hard to find the motivation.  Produce those endorphins to fight off the winter blues!

4.Travel, even if it’s somewhere close by

A change of scenery is always a good thing, especially because winter can oftentimes seem so repetitive. Take a weekend trip to a nearby city. Explore a new part of town. I have never actually done it, but I have always wanted to try a “staycation”-rent a hotel in your town just to make it seem like you are on a real vacation and not distracted by the mundane tasks/chores at your house.Lacey strolling in Tamarack

5.Better yet, travel somewhere warm!

This is obviously my favorite one, and I wish I could do this for the entire of months of January and February. I guess this year I will just have to settle for a quick weekend trip to sunny San Diego. 😉

6.Spend time with family and friends (have a party!)

Spending time with family and friends is my cure for everything. I love attending parties and although I’m a terrible host, I love having people over too! In fact, I think it’s about time for another game night…..

New Year's Eve with Friends

7.Laugh! (watch your favorite funny movies/shows)

This is the easiest and cheapest way to kick winter’s ass. Invite that hilarious friend over, watch your favorite comedy, watch YouTube…there’s always hilarious animal videos on there. Fortunately for me, this is easy to come by because I happen to be married to the funniest man on the planet.

8.Take Vitamin D supplement

They even make Vitamin D in gummies for adults. Seriously, the taste like gummy bears. I pretty much overdose on these November-April.

9.Volunteer

The best way to fight any sad feelings-get out and volunteer! Volunteering is a great reminder to appreciate what you have. Plus, helping others just feels good!

 

If you have any additional tips that will help make the cold winter months a little more fun, PLEASE let us know!

Lifestyle

Game Plan for 2016

January 16, 2016

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, we decided to make an entire game plan for 2016.  A lot of our goals will require weeks or months to plan so we’re starting now to make sure we get as much of this stuff done as possible.  From travel, to home remodeling, to learning new languages…our list is kinda all over the place.  Check out our process and decide if making your own list might help you achieve more this year.

Right away we noticed some immediate benefits from making this list.  First of all, making our list forced us to think about and talk about 1. WHY it was a goal? and 2. HOW could/would we be able to accomplish it? Adding notes to our goals helped us get an idea of how much time and planning each goal will require.  Sharing our list with you guys is already resulting in us feeling a greater level of accountability for achieving these goals.  We realized that now that we have this list, we can check back in on it every month to track our progress.

We set our sites on a few lofty goals because we want to do our best to keep up with the eventful pace we set for ourselves in 2015.  You can read more about that here.  I don’t think we’ll ever be able to top last year (cuz we got married!), but below is how we’re going to try…

Visit at least 10 different cities

  • With 7 cities already being booked (with rewards points), we should be able to hit this mark.  So far, we’ll be visiting San Diego (for Rihanna), Houston (for the Final Four), New York City, Florence, Rome, Malta, and Chicago.  If all goes well in the coming months, we should be adding Maui to this list
  • To make sure we get to the last few cities to complete our goal of 10, we’re going to keep learning about the points planning/travel hacking process through our friends at 10xtravel.com
Florence-Duomo | DitchingNormal

very excited for Florence in May

Continue Downsizing junk and bills

  • Right now, we have 2 cars.  While it’s pretty awesome to have 2 cars, we don’t need both and could eliminate about $4,000 in bills by getting rid of one of ’em. That being said, anyone wanna buy a suburu outback sport?
  • We’re about to do some major spring cleaning and plan on getting rid of any unnecessary items we find.
Donation Bags | Ditching Normal

Haven’t worn it in a few months? Take it to GoodWill!!!

Continue Paying off Mortgage ASAP

  • We’ve been able to keep up with paying double on our mortgage for the past 6 months or so, but we’re hoping to paying a bit more once we ditch a car.
  • How are we going to do this? By utilizing credit cards rewards points to discount our travel costs.  You can read more about this process here.
Downtown Boise Condo | Ditching Normal

Hopefully we can pay off this little guy soon!

Spend More Time with Family and Friends

  • Travel, live events, and life in general is more fun when you’re spending it with loved ones.  Get ready to spend more time with the Thompsons this year!
  • We’re going to reach out to friends and family to travel with us more along with other things.
excited to meet this crew in Malta this summer

excited to meet back up with this crew in Malta this summer

Improve our non-existent Photography Skills

  • This includes getting a decent camera and finally learning how to use one.
  • We’ll be bugging our friend Vlad from Radion Photography a whole lot for help!
Muir National Park | DitchingNormal

A favorite pic from 2015

Bedroom Remodel

  • Our downtown condo was pretty beat up when we purchased it as a short-sale a few years ago.  We’ve successfully remodeled every room except for the bedroom so far.  A bedroom remodel, including some new carpet/flooring, larger bed, and a better closet space, are LONG overdue.
  • How are we going to do it? Well, with some help from YouTube DIY videos, we’re hoping to cut costs by doing the work ourselves.  We’ll likely use the money from (hopefully) selling a car, to help us get a king sized bed.

More Collaborations

  • We’re looking forward to working with as many creative minds as possible this year.  Photogs, bloggers, travel addicts, and anyone else that has a passion for making life exciting.  If you fall in this category…hit us up!!!
  • How are we going to do this? By stepping out of our comfort zones and initiating communication with the talented folks we’ve grown to admire.  Emails and social media messages will likely lead the way!
Vintage Style Bride

recent collaboration with Radion Photography, Ira and Lucy, and Next Adventure Studio

Save $15,000 or more by Traveling with Rewards Points

  • Wouldn’t that be awesome to say at the end of the year?  We’re over half way there so far.  It’s going to take some serious planning to finish out this goal though.  We’re all ears to any tips you may have.
  • How are we going to do this? By continuing to plan a head with reward points traveling.  The planning we did last year has resulted in us saving nearly $9k already this year.
Our recent trip we booked on points was featured on 10xtravel.com

Our recent trip we booked on points was featured on 10xtravel.com

Continue Gradually Learning a 2nd Language

  • Lacey’s going to be working on Spanish while Mat keeps puttering through Italian.  The plan is to try and make traveling a bit more comfortable while visiting these countries.  Comprende?
  • How are we going to do this?  We have the Rosetta Stones for these languages and are going to start scheduling at least 2 days a week to sit down for an hour or two of studying.  Once we get the basics, we’ll look for some in-person classes we can sign up for.

Start Mixing in Some Yoga

  • We’ve had a few more aches and pains over the past year that are likely due to our lack of flexibility.  While lifting weights is fun, we need to start taking care of our joints as well.  We’re thinking of trying out Sage Yoga in Boise.
  • How are we going to do this? This ones fairly straight forward.  We’ll get signed up for classes at Sage! Stay tuned for possible review of Sage Yoga.